Murder trial of ex-Gladstone cop winding down

Closing arguments are expected to take place on Wednesday

Ex-Gladstone police officer Lynn Benton (with beard) during his murder trial, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)
Ex-Gladstone police officer Lynn Benton (with beard) during his murder trial, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)

OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — The murder trial of former Gladstone police officer Lynn Benton may be nearing an end after nearly a month of testimony.

Benton is charged with aggravated murder and conspiring with 2 other people to kill his wife, Debbie Higbee-Benton, in 2011. Detectives claim his motive was to protect his career from allegations Debbie was going to make about domestic violence. Lynn Benton was born female but transitioned and identifies as male.

Debbie Higbee-Benton was killed in the Gladstone salon she owned, and authorities say Benton conspired with 2 other people — Susan Campbell and her son Jason Jaynes — to kill her.

Higbee-Benton’s death was initially ruled a heart attack. The medical examiner later said she had been shot and strangled.

Prosecutors used jailhouse informant Travis Layman to try and prove Benton’s guilt.

Layman was in the same cell block as Benton after the murder and told investigators Benton revealed his involvement in the conspiracy and murder.

But Benton’s defense attorney, Patrick Sweeney, called this case a conclusion looking for evidence. Sweeney said the prosecution has no credible, reliable or trustworthy evidence to convict Benton.

Multnomah County Deputy DA Jeff Auxier testified in the Lynn Benton murder trial, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)
Multnomah County Deputy DA Jeff Auxier testified in the Lynn Benton murder trial, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)

In court Tuesday, it was revealed that prior to the trial Clackamas County officials and the informant met with Multnomah County Deputy DA Jeffrey Auxier.

Auxier took the stand and said the informant “brought up some other unrelated criminal acts that he thought we may be interested in.”

Benton’s defense attorney was trying to discredit the information provided by Layman in order to get a reduced prison term.

But Auxier said he never had any plans to ask for a reduction in sentencing for robbery and burglary because of the information Layman provided against Benton.

The defense brought forward another inmate — who wished to remain anonymous — who claimed Layman is a liar.

Closing arguments are expected to take place on Wednesday, and then it will be up to the jury to decide the fate of ex-Gladstone police officer Lynn Benton.